Schools are for learning, making friends, and – apparently – great places for lice to congregate and spread. For young school children and their families, lice are just one of those facts of life that have to be addressed one way or the other.
Luckily, children aren’t left to protect themselves from lice all on their own – parents and schools can do a lot to help prevent lice from taking root and/or spreading. Schools, in particular, are in excellent positions to help prevent the spread of lice, as school faculty and administrators can teach many children at once about how to keep lice at bay.
Here, we’ll discuss methods that schools can use to help prevent the spread of lice, practices that should be replaced, and how schools can work with families to make sure lice aren’t more of a problem than they have to be.
From about the time children enter preschool to around their elementary school years is the period of time in which they’re most likely to come into contact with lice. Dealing with a young child who has lice can be difficult, as it can be harder to keep them from itching, and they may not be as strict about doing what they need to do in order to either prevent or treat lice.
This is why schools are the first line of defense against the spread of lice, as teachers and administrators have the ability to create programs that help children learn about lice and really understand why it’s important to prevent and treat them.
Most of us are familiar with routine lice checks at school. Even if you don’t have children, you most likely remember having a teacher or school nurse comb through your hair during a lice inspection. This is a smart practice, especially when done in large numbers and on a routine basis.
In terms of preventing lice, it’s great, because schools can keep track of who might have lice, how many kids have lice, and whether or not it’s becoming a major problem. Keeping track of lice outbreaks is paramount in keeping them in check.
The other advantage of routine, large-scale lice checks has more to do with child psychology. When children see that a lice inspection is part of something routine, it feels more normal to them and less like something to be afraid of. This sense of normalcy can really come in handy should a child discover they indeed have lice.
The topic of lice can be rather taboo, and children can be somewhat feckless sometimes in regards to outbreaks of lice. It’s important that they understand that it’s nothing to feel embarrassed about or ashamed of, nor something to make fun of others about. This is why it’s so important for teachers, as well as parents, to help children understand that lice are just regular, mundane facts of life that many people end up encountering.
The taboo nature of lice is also why it’s a good idea for schools to include lice education programs. Teachers could take a day to discuss the subject, or schools could have guest speakers come to talk to an assembly of children about what lice look like, what happens if you get them, and how to treat others who have them. Treating lice is never something fun, and children and parents have enough on their plate without having to deal with teasing or bullying.
School Outreach Initiatives:
Another great method for helping prevent the spread of lice is for schools to reach out to parents. Awareness is one of the greatest weapons available when it comes to stopping lice. Just as it’s important to educate children, it’s important to educate parents, as well, especially since they’re going to have to be responsible for the larger tasks of selecting and applying treatment products and methods.
Schools should prepare lice education kits that students can take home to their parents. These kits should contain informational material that will not only discuss various lice related questions and concerns, but also provide information about common, safe lice treatment products.
Parents, in turn, have to be sure to let school officials know that their child has lice; otherwise, it’s more than likely going to become a much larger issue. Parents may often feel reluctant to inform their child’s teachers about a lice problem because many schools have “No Nit” policies that prevent children with lice from attending school.
This practice is strictly opposed by virtually all health officials and head lice treatment/research organizations. Since lice carry no diseases and pose no serious threat to anyone, keeping children out of school simply hurts more than it helps.